tv Politics Nation MSNBC September 6, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
that's "hardball" for with us. i'll be back in an hour with rachel maddow and my msnbc colleagues for coverage on the convention. "politicsnation" with al sharpton starts right now. thanks, chris. and thanks to you for tuning in. i'm live tonight at the democratic national convention in charlotte. and what a crowd we have. we're just four hours away from president obama's speech in this election suppressing the voters has become a key part of the republican strategy. and for almost 50 years this country has had no greater champion of voting rights than the man speaking now at the podium. voter i.d., voter suppression is
something that they have brought out in many states this year. my concern is that a generation ago we fought with the man that is speaking at the podium to get us the right to vote today in this generation people like you and i have to fight to maintain the right to vote. this morning reverend joe lowry of one generation and me of another stood together saying this vote should not be compromised. and this election no matter who you're supporting. no matter who you're voting for, this election cannot be the turning back of voting rights. at the podium, let's listen to congressman john lewis of georgia. let's listen. >> -- than we were in 1961. and in 2008 we showed the world the true promise of america when we elected president barack obama.
a few years ago a man from rock hill inspired by president obama's election decided to come forward. he came to my office in washington and said i am one of the people who beat you. i want to apologize. will you forgive me? i said i accept your apology. he started crying. he gave me a hug. i hugged him back. and we both started crying. this man and i don't want to go back. we don't want to go back.
>> brothers and sisters, do you want to go back? or do you want to keep america moving forward? my dear friends, your vote is precious. almost sacred. it is the most powerful non-violent tool we have to create a more perfect union. not too long ago people stood in unmovable lines. they had to pass a so-called literacy test. pay a poll tax. one occasion one was asked to count the jelly beans in a jar all to keep them from casting their ballot. today it is unbelievable that
there are republican officials trying to stop some people from vo voting. they're changing the rules. cutting polling hours and polling requirement to suppress the vote. the republican leader in the pennsylvania house even bragged that his state's new voter i.d. law is going to allow governor romney to win the state. that's not right. that's not fair. and that is not just. and similar things have been made in ohio, texas, florida, wisconsin, arizona, georgia, and south carolina. i've seen this before. i lived this before.
too many people struggled, suffered, and died to make it possible for every american to exercise their right to vote. >> and we have come too far together to ever turn back. so democrats, we must not be silent. we must stand up, speak up, and speak out. we must march to the polls like never, ever before. we must come together and exercise our sacred right.
and together on november 6, we will re-elect the man who will lead america forward. president barack obama. >> that was congressman john lewis. john lewis, one of those that led the march to montgomery in '65 addressing this convention tonight as those of us that are here now must deal with voter suppression. voter i.d. we've been talking about it for weeks on this show. many of the civil rights groups are out here. we are now dealing with this, the threat to our right to vote is real. and we're not going to let them turn back the clock as congressman lewis said.
joining me now is alex wagner host of "now with alex wagner" here on msnbc. and e.j. dionne with the washington post. thanks both for coming on tonight. >> good to be here. >> let me ask you, e.j. you were in the hall when congressman john lewis was speaking. we could see from the shots some people in the audience appeared moved. some had teared up. what was the reaction as you got it on the floor? >> well, it was an overwhelming reaction. no one is more qualified to make a moral case for equal voting rights than john lewis. this is a very brave and very good man. i think people regardless of their politics know that that's true. and the room was electrified. because this is a very
fundamental thing. we talk about in political terms how some of these laws might make it harder for president obama to win. but the idea that on one day every two or four years, every person in the country is absolutely equal whether you're a homeless man or woman or the richest person in the country, democracy means that every single citizen ought to have equal access to the ballot box. what's wrong with these laws is they clearly discriminate against particular groups of americans, particularly less privileged americans. so no matter where you stand, you ought to be opposed to this. it's sad. because if you go back 50 years, there were a lot of republicans who stood up very strongly for voting rights and civil rights. >> well, i certainly agree with that. and as you know, alex, we've been fighting this all over the country. various groups. the reaction to the crowd here right away was a huge applause. this is a real issue and a real
problem even beyond this election. >> i mean, this is -- and john lewis did a marvelous and necessary job of highlighting the fact this is a civil rights issue. and we talk about budgets being moral documents. you know what else is a moral document? a party platform. we came off of a convention in tampa with a republican party that has built into its platform discriminatory policies regarding voter i.d. laws, discriminatory immigration laws, and has doubled down on that. we now have a very sharp contrast in the democratic party. which is these laws are wrong, we don't accept them. they are infringements on basic civil rights. >> right. and we have to fight. and i think people -- a lot of people need to understand. i've tried to clarify on this. we're not talking about people not having i.d. we're talking about why change the i.d. people have had. same i.d. we've used voting for bush and clinton and reagan, why do we need a different i.d. now?
it's not about not having i.d. it's about not having this new i.d. that they're requiring. >> it is a systemic disfranchisement of voters. >> it's a voting rights issue. john lewis is certainly the one that was there two generations ago to lay it out tonight. stay with me. we'll talk about president clinton's speech last night and look forward to president obama's speech tonight after the break. this is a special edition of "politicsnation" live from the democratic convention in charlotte. hey. hey eddie. i brought your stuff. you don't have to do this. yes i do. i want you to keep this. it'd be weird. take care. you too. [ sighs ]
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after bill clinton's speech that absolutely demolished the republicans. unmasking their phony messages and their mean spirited policies. >> are we where we want to be today? no. is the president satisfied? of course not. but are we better off than we were when he took office? >> of course we are. it was an economy that was shedding private sector jobs by the thousands. he stopped that. and then he led us to 29 straight months of job growth. romney/ryan don't want to talk about that. they say that's for a quiet room or something. >> the romney plan fails the first test of fiscal
responsibility. the numbers just don't add up. republican economic policies quadruple the national debt before i took office in the 12 years before i took office. and doubled the debt in the eight years after i left. we simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double down on trickle down. >> just like that. clinton delivered crippling blows to the romney/ryan argument. but he did it with a tone that even left the secretary of state smiling some 10,000 miles away. he did it with a tone that showed why he was the perfect surrogate. >> i want to nominate a man who's cool on the outside but
who burns for america on the inside. by the way, after last night, i want a man who had the good sense to marry michelle obama. >> america wants a man like that too. and tonight they'll get him as he delivers his own pitch for a second term. back with me now is alex wagner host of "now with alex wagner" here on msnbc. and e.j. dionne columnist for the washington post and an msnbc contributor. thanks again for coming and staying with me tonight. alex, let me ask you right here this question. just yesterday romney was out slamming president obama for taking work out of the welfare bill. take a listen.
>> there's no question that president obama's decision to say that we're going to allow waivers or excuses from work requirements in welfare was designed to shore up part of his base that may not be inclined to go out and vote in the same kind of energy and passion as they did four years ago. >> now, president clinton who signed the welfare act of '96, he took that on as a ridiculous claim. he went right at it last night. listen to president clinton. >> the claim that president obama weakened welfare reforms work requirement is just not true. but they keep on running ads claiming it. you want to know why? their campaign pollster said we are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.
finally i can say that is true. >> alex, how important was it for president clinton who signed the welfare reform bill to deal with that issue last night? >> hugely important. number one because this is a base -- this is a lie that the romney campaign has been furthering. there have been many lies they're furthering but specifically as it relates to well naer what president obama has done is given states more power. he's trying to increase the work requirements by 20%. the actual policy is nothing as the romney campaign has characterized it. the real issue here is this is the romney/ryan bid to get at blue collar white working class voters. and there is a racial element to this. it's an us versus them strategy. bill clinton is an incredible emissary there because he can speak to that part of the electorate like no one else. he knows the topic. he knows the subject.
and look, nobody can explain policy like bill clinton. >> e.j., bill clinton being the one who signed it and can speak to the white male vote that mr. romney is ahead with and clearly trying to appeal to with this misinformation, how important was it for bill clinton to deal with this directly and will this back the romney campaign up from these distorted ads? >> unfortunately, i don't think it'll back them off from the ads. but it does make it more complicated. because they've used bill clinton in their own ads, which i think is a real mistake. because now bill clinton can say those ads you have me in just aren't true. clinton has the standing to say it as the author of welfare reform. it was his signature of his 1992 campaign. and as alex said, he can talk to voters whom president obama might not be able to talk to so effectively. then the other thing you've got to say about clinton is on issue
after issue, he can take really complicated things and without oversimplifying, simplify, make them understandable. and he was a professor last night about a really good and folksy one. >> let me ask you quickly, e.j. we're running out of time. first night, great speech by the first lady. last night bill clinton. what does the president have to do tonight? >> first of all, i actually think it's good for him. i don't think there's anybody in the country more competitive than barack obama. i think he's got to do two things. he's got to talk about what he's done, what worked and what needs to be done. but he's got to be really specific about the future. because romney left him a huge opening. that speech that romney gave was very thin on policy. conservatives themselves have said that. that gives the president a chance to say what's behind his
slogan forward. he's got to tell us what to move forward to. >> alex, what does he need to do to close this convention that has been very inspiring and well done? >> he does not need to speak to an empty chair. and he also -- i think he needs to get specific about some policy that he wants to enact whether that's immigration reform, whether that's taking a stab at campaign finance reform. i think america needs to hear the president say this is what i'm going to do. >> do you think that at the end of this convention, we saw a little bump for the republicans after their convention. if all goes well tonight as it has gone the last two days, what kind of bump do you think president obama will get? real quick. >> i think the president's going to come out really strong tomorrow. more importantly the democratic party has masterfully explained what it believes and what it
believes about the american social impact and that's good for the country. >> mr. e.j. dionne? >> i think alex is right about the whole ticket. i think it's hard to get a bounce these days because people don't watch the convention as much as they used to. but this is a convention that ought to produce a bounce. so we're going to test the theory of whether there is one anymore. because i think each night did something different for different groups of owners. and i presume the president is going to be bouncing himself tonight. >> i think you're probably right. and i think that they also -- the country, it was good for the country to see that picture of bill clinton and barack obama on stage together whatever differences they've had, they put that aside for the future of this country to move forward. and i think that you could not get a healthier picture for the party and the country than the embracing of bill clinton and
president barack obama last night. alex wagner and e.j. dionne, thanks. up next, i'll talk to the woman who stared down rush limbaugh and she didn't blink. sandra fluke joins me live fresh off her big speech right here in charlotte. you're watching a special edition of "politicsnation" on msnbc. we're live from the democratic convention. bob...
oh, hey alex. just picking up some, brochures, posters copies of my acceptance speech. great! it's always good to have a backup plan, in case i get hit by a meteor. wow, your hair looks great. didn't realize they did photoshop here. hey, good call on those mugs. can't let 'em see what you're drinking. you know, i'm glad we're both running a nice, clean race. no need to get nasty. here's your "honk if you had an affair with taylor" yard sign. looks good. [ male announcer ] fedex office. now save 50% on banners. ♪ home of the brave. ♪ it's where fear goes unwelcomed... ♪ and certain men... find a way to rise above. this is the land of giants. ♪ guts. glory. ram.
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all right. we're back with a special edition of "politicsnation." and we're talking to the people. what was your favorite speech of the convention? >> i'm not sure. >> you're not sure. there were so many. >> my favorite was michelle obama and i had two, can i tell you two? the other was bill clinton. >> bill clinton and michelle obama. >> yes. >> where are you from? >> charlotte. >> all right. >> how you doing? >> are you fired up and ready to go? >> fired up and ready to go. i'm ready to go, al. i like that part of what you said -- wekeep them straight. >> tell me what you think is the most important thing. have you been watching the convention the whole time?
what impressed you? >> bill clinton's speech. it was amazing. >> why was it amazing? >> because he said the truth. and because it touched the people. >> all right. how you doing? how much are you looking forward to the president? what do you want to hear from the president tonight? >> i just want him to encourage everybody to get out and vote and remind us he can't do this alone. that we have to help him. and get involved and everybody get registered to vote and get out and vote. >> do i think the president deserves four more years? >> he asked me do i think the president deserves four more years? of course! >> why do you think he deserves four more years? >> i think he has done a fantastic job as our president. and i feel like that he's just got us out of the ditch the republicans put us in. it's going to take at least four more years to put it back on
track. >> all right. are you better off today than you were four years ago? >> absolutely. >> why are you better off than four years ago? >> because president obama's in office and it's going to get better. >> do you think if he gets back in four more years he will be able to finish the job? >> absolutely. >> all right. >> are your neighbors and relatives fired up? >> yes, they were fired up. >> i hear there's an enthusiasm gap? >> no. we are fired up and ready to go. get out and vote. no matter what vote. >> this is what democracy looks like. >> this is what democracy looks like. all right. >> i'm from san antonio and -- >> how did you like mayor castro? >> i was so proud of mayor castro. his fans need to get on the democratic party and turn that
state blue. >> you're a young voter. are young people going to come out and vote? >> question, they are. >> why are young people coming out to vote? >> obama all day. >> all day? >> yeah. >> and let me look, you got on an obama t-shirt. how old are you? >> i'm 17. >> you're 17. >> yes. >> but you can vote next year. but you're wearing and advertising this year. it's important that other people go out and vote. even though we can't vote we can still put our word and influence out there. >> you heard him. young folks got to vote. i'm going to be right back. stay tuned. "politicsnation," we live with the people at the democratic national convention.
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democratic convention in charlotte, north carolina. last night the convention was all about celebrating the people who have been bravely fighting the battles for women all year. adding her voice was sandra fluke, the georgetown law student who famously was attacked by rush limbaugh for standing up for women. last night she thanked the president for standing up for her. >> an america in which our president when he hears that a young woman has been verbally attacked thinks of his daughters, not his delegates or his donors. and then instead of trying to silence her, you invite me here. >> but on the heels of her
speech, conservatives are showing they haven't learned a thing. their tweets were disgraceful. michelle malkin wrote me me me me me. free free free free. bc evil gop. todd kincannon wrote sandra fluke, i am woman hear me whine. and ann coulter said sandra wants tanning appointments. fighting for womens rights is whining? health care is no more important than getting a tan? the right's words are hateful and their ideas are wrong. they just don't get it. joining me now live from inside the convention hall is sandra fluke. thanks for being here, miss fluke. let me ask you. we talked earlier today, but are you surprised by the right wing's reaction to your speech last night?
>> you know, it's unfortunate. i would hope that we would do better than this in our political discourse in this country, but, you know, if you're not being attacked for something or criticized then you're not standing up for anything. and in my life i stand up for what i believe in. so i'm not going to focus on them. i'm going to focus on re-electing this president. >> well, you brought up governor romney's silence in the face of the attacks of your character last night. watch this part of your speech. >> your new president could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs. a man who won't stand up to those slurs or to any of he extreme bigoted voices in his own party. >> now, do you think, sandra,
that voters will distinguish romney/ryan from the other voices on the right or do you think they will not make that distinction? >> well, what i think is important is that what we've seen from mr. romney is that he's not able or not willing to stand up to those voices on the right. we've repeatedly seen decisions throughout his campaign that he is beholden to or in lock step with the most extreme voices in his party. and that is not leadership. and that is not what we need from a president. >> now, the romney/ryan ticket has anti-women policies when it comes to reproductive rights they support a person hood law that would ban all abortions. and would also ban most birth control. and they'd defund planned parenthood. >> that's right. and that person hood bill which mr. ryan cosponsored, it would also criminalize many aspects of
in vitro fertilization. while i think it's important that everyone shares with the folks they talk to is when we're talking about defunding planned parenthood, we're talking about cutting funds for breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care. because the federal government only funds very limited abortions in the case of rape or incest or the life of a mother. so those federal government funds that are being cut are for women's health care in a whole host of areas. >> now, ryan's been trying to back track on his position that his authoring and cosponsoring legislation. do you think he's succeeding or do you think people understand his record as far as women's issues are concerned? >> well, a wise woman, lilly ledbetter, actually told me it's not important what you hear from a politician when they're being criticized. it's important what's in their record. so mr. ryan cannot run from his
record. >> talking about records, women at the dnc made a strong case to re-elect president obama. watch this. >> president obama understands women. he trusts women. and on every single issue that matters to us, he stands with women. >> we cannot trust mitt romney to respect our rights. >> he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care. that's what my husband stands for. >> do you think the case was strong enough for women voters on behalf of the president, sandra? >> you know, the president makes it easy to make a case to women voters for him. because he's been a consistent champion of the issues that we care about. and that's what cecile laid out.
it's fabulous to see women responding to him that way. >> you make it easy for us to stand with a young courageous woman like you. >> thank you, reverend. >> thank you for your time. coming up, i'll talk to two of the most important -- in america about what it takes to mobilize the base and what really matters in this election. stay with us.
we're getting our first look at what president obama's going to say in his speech tonight. the campaign just released excerpts and he's going to lay out some very specific goals. his plan would reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade. it would create 1 million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016. and it would train 2 million workers for real jobs at community colleges. that's what the president will outline tonight for the american people. joining me now is randy
winegarden president of the american federation of teachers. and george gresham president of the largest health care workers union in the country. and he's the largest local in the world. thank you both for joining me. randy, what do you think about those goals from the president? >> look, it's great that the president is taking as michelle obama said on monday, his values and translating it into action. and the only reason he can do that is because he spent the last four years with all of us creating a foundation from what was the worst recession since the great depression. >> george, he says -- let me read one of the excerpts. he says i won't pretend i'm offering a quick or easy path. i never have. you didn't elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. you elected me to tell you the truth. and the truth is it will take
more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. is america ready for straight talk, george? >> i absolutely think we are. the president is saying we didn't get into this overnight. we're not going to get into it overnight. but he has a plan to get us out of it. the difference in what the president is proposing and what mitt romney has not yet spoken on what he's going to do is tremendous. the president stands up for the working people. mitt romney stands up for the 1%. it is as clear as that. >> he also gives this challenge. and i'm reading an excerpt. but know this america, our problems can be solved. our challenges can be met. the path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. and i'm asking you to choose that future. is that the tone we need to have set for people leaving this
convention and going into the fields to do the work? >> absolutely -- well, absolutely. you're hearing it from the people. because we know -- we know that when we are all part of shared opportunity, we are part of shared prosperity. it is not enough that some people have made more money in the last few years than ever before. what we need to do is recreate an enduring middle class for all the people who live and work in america. we need -- this is -- we are about -- our party is about all, not about some. our party is about us doing it together. not about people being on their own. our party is to take individual action, individual entrepreneurship and make it about shared opportunity and
prosperity. >> george, what will it take, what must be done to assure victory for the president in november? >> well, you know what? it's good for us to get excited about speeches. it's good for us to get happy about the chance that we have a real alternative. but we got to do the work. when we leave here, we got to get out and get those and say there's no difference. we have to explain to them in a way that they understand. they must be out of their mind to think that we can win this election without them. we need to participate. sisters and brothers all around the country, working people. if you really care about the difference, don't just talk the talk. you got to get out and walk the walk. you got to do the vote. you got to vote. you got to make sure you tell your neighbors to vote. tell your church to vote. tell your schools to vote. and if your children are old enough, tell them to vote. a that's going to be the
difference. >> ran b i didy, you head the t. program it is like pell grants and head start. if romney and ryan win, what will that do to education in this country? >> it will hugely hurt the kids that need the investment the most. what we know is that when we give kids particularly poor kids and one out of four kids in the united states are poor. when we give them an early start, when we give them pre-k education, we level the playing field for them. we make it -- there's proof about this. everybody knows this. so when ryan and romney say they are cutting them out, what they're really saying is that only some kids, not all kids,
should get a chance for success. and what president clinton said yesterday in supporting the nomination of the re-election of barack obama, he said that our country succeeds when we are about all children. when we are about all workers. we see that when we say let's make sure that all kids get a great shot. that's what created a great middle class. and that's what we have to do in terms of the day-to-day work we do with the american voters. isn't it better to spend some money to ensure that all kids get a decent pre-k, get a shot at college, than spend three or four times as much on prison. >> george, how do we deal with the people not to the level of
enthusiasm we want. 62% of registered republicans are extremely or very enthusiastic to vote. only 56% of democrats. how do we raise that? >> yeah. we have to leave here. one, i think it begins with the president's speech this evening. i think that people will get excited about that. people will understand at that point what the difference is. but we have to talk to people. we have to get them excited about the choices they have or they don't have. rev, if these people don't get out and vote, their children, the people that they care about the most, the reason we all work, have a future in this country. if you can't get excited about your children and your future, then you might as well die right now because you're dead. we need it right now. >> i think we have to -- look. people are very anxious in our country because we faced the worst recession since the great depression and not everybody has come back.
the rich have come back. but not everyone has come back. and we need to actually as teachers, as hospital workers, as reverends, if we really believe this about having a better country, we need to make sure we talk to the american people about what happened before and what the president has done thus far and will do. >> well, that's what it's going to be. wherever you work, wherever you live, wherever you play, we need everyone's hands on deck. get everybody. we got to vote. thank you for your time tonight. we'll be right back with my parting thoughts from this convention. just about three hours from president obama's big speech to the country. you're watching "politicsnation" live from charlotte here on msnbc.
oh, hey alex. just picking up some, brochures, posters copies of my acceptance speech. great! it's always good to have a backup plan, in case i get hit by a meteor. wow, your hair looks great. didn't realize they did photoshop here. hey, good call on those mugs. can't let 'em see what you're drinking. you know, i'm glad we're both running a nice, clean race. no need to get nasty. here's your "honk if you had an affair with taylor" yard sign. looks good. [ male announcer ] fedex office. now save 50% on banners.
we're just moments away from msnbc's special coverage of the democratic convention. in just about three hours away from president obama taking that stage, the main event. but already this has been a great convention for the democratic party and for progressive policy. what a contrast to last week's republican costume party where they dressed up and pretended to be reasonable, pretended to be caring and competent. but they hardly mentioned policy or afghanistan or mitt romney for that matter. here in charlotte, there is a wonderful energy. you can see it in the smiles on people's faces. you can feel the energy of the crowd, their passion, their enthusiasm, their commitment to win this election. and you can hear it in the
voices of the speakers. >> we in our diversity and our differences are all in this together. when i say we, i'm not talking about anything except all of america. >> it's time for democrats to grow a backbone and stand up for what we believe. >> corporations are not people. people have hearts. they have kids. they get jobs. they get sick. they cry. they dance. they live. they love. and they die. and that matters. >> we must once again come together and stand together for the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward. my husband, our president,
barack obama. >> keep this great country moving forward. that's what this election is all about. soon it will be the president's turn to make his case to get rehired. as i've said many times on this show, it's not even a close call. of course he should be rehired. romney and wrongway ryan? no. i don't think so. so it's to the president tonight to remind voters that only together we can change america for the better. he's done it before, and i know he can do it again. and then it will be to all of us to get involved, put our shoulders to the wheel, and work hard every day until election day. i'm ready to work. are you? we're ready to make america work. are you? i